Ok, you know when as a kid, you are forced to eat something so often that sooner or later you are totally turned off by it, for like, umm…EVER?! I recently had this conversation with someone who had this experience with beets (too bad, they really are delicious when roasted).
Well, my too much of a good thing comes not in the form one single food, but rather an entire meal; and that is Chicken Tetrazzini. Had it? Heard of it? No? Yeah, probably not many have, as spell check even has the red squiggly line under Tetrazzini as I type this, indicating to me that not enough people have used that word enough to garner it common place and worthy of no squiggles.
Chicken Tetrazzini or ‘Tet!’ as my dad used to call it in grand anticipation, (I’m still not sure how that man did not tire of it) is a casserole complied of noodles, heavy cream, chicken and Parmesan as it’s main ingredients. Even today as I strictly adhere to my plant-based (vegan) diet, it doesn’t sound really that bad. But, again, too much of a good thing, is well, not good.
Now, for whatever reason that still baffles me, I have been thinking about that dish a lot lately. I love a good challenge, one where I am the underdog and come out swinging (Sounds dreamy, huh? Yeah, it doesn’t happen too often). With the handful of non-vegan ingredients, I challenged myself to not only make Tet, but make it just like moms; I wanted to be transported back (mumble mumble) years ago and fill the house with the scent of Tet AND it had to look like it, too.
I started swapping. The butter was now Earth Balance. The original called for all-purpose flour, so I substituted in One Degree Organic’s Whole Wheat Flour (read about them!). Noodles were now egg free, heavy cream was swapped for non-dairy plain coffee creamer (I used So Delicious) and the chicken was now, non other than St. Louis based Match Meat. I added in a little dried rosemary and made my own Parmesan using nutritional yeast, walnuts and a bit of sea salt.
As the Tet cooked, the house slowly filled with that familiar scent. And when I pulled it from the oven, I’ll admit, I was nervous. Why? Many reasons: Did I do as well as mom, did I want to do as well as mom?, what if it totally sucks and I really can’t veganize this - I would have failed.
I took a bite and almost began to cry as the memories came flooding back. The house was filled with the old familiar scent and I was tasting flavors of years ago. Next, the husband test. Passed that one too as he went back for seconds, and no, I did not starve him for two days prior. However, the ULTIMATE test was mom. Again, I was a little apprehensive as I served it up to her, and damn if that woman didn’t inhale it! Now I can call the recipe a success.
Vegan Chicken Tetrazzini
1 C Earth Balance buttery spread
¼ C whole wheat flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 ½ TB dried rosemary
1 ¼ C vegetable broth
1 C dairy free plain creamer
7 oz egg free spaghetti noodles
8 oz Match Meat, chicken flavor
8 oz jarred sliced mushrooms
½ C vegan Parmesan (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 350 °. Melt the Earth Balance in a large sauce pan over low heat. Blend in the salt, pepper and rosemary. Stir until well mixed. Mix in broth and creamer and continue to stir. Add noodles, Match Meat and mushrooms. Once well integrated, pour mixture into an 8 X 8 casserole dish, top with vegan Parmesan and bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Broil for 1 minute for a browned crispy top.
1 C nutritional yeast
¼ C walnuts
1 tsp salt
Mix all ingredients in a mini food processor and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
A walk in full of food for our #vegan dinner event tomorrow night. https://plantedinspring.eventbrite.com/
Ok, so check this out. I don’t have an insatiable sweet tooth and I certainly could go the rest of my life without any kind of gummy candy, so, when the nice folks at Surf Sweets sent me a care package of their products I’ll admit I was skeptical. The packages actually sat around in my house for several weeks and kept getting overlooked due to my whirlwind lifestyle. Finally, I broke into them one night when I was babysitting my girlfriends kiddos. I figure - If I’m not wild about them, I can leave them for her.
I’ll cut to the chase. Buy these. The flavor was so different from any other similar type of candy (think Swedish Fish, or Haribro Gummy Bears). Surf Sweets are not overly sugary, they actually taste like fruit and does not linger in your mouth as conventional gummies (is there such a thing?) tend to.
In their folder of information that accompanied the candy, they say their Natural and Organic candy is:
-Made with organic fruit juice, sweeteners, colors and flavors
-100% RDA of Vitamin A
-Free of corn syrup and GMOs
-Made in a nut-free facility
-Gluten, dairy and casein free
-Made right here in the USA
And, yes I DID leave what was left (not much….) for the kids - but only because I cannot be trusted around something I consider a treat and these are a real treat.
They’re Here! The much anticipated Vegan Chocolate Truffles brought to you by the collaboration of Bittersweet Artisan Chocolates and STLVegGirl are now on the shelves at Parkers Table in St. Louis. Currently you can choose from a blast from the past Chocolate Cookie Dough or a smooth velvety Chocolate Coconut Ganache. They can also be mail ordered to you directly by contacting Bittersweet.
You can learn more about the collaboration here.
My Everybody Cooks Story
In September as I was driving to Branson (don’t ask…), I get this giddy call from Chef Marianne Moore who is all things culinary at Dierbergs Markets. (http://dierbergs.com/) I recently landed a teaching gig there, but had not yet had my first class, so this call was even more of a surprise. Marianne was calling to ask me to be featured in their Everybody Cooks Magazine AND to be the special guest on the accompanying TV show, Everybody Cooks. Umm… hold on, let me think for a moment…. YES! In fact, ask me, ME? Who am I? Just some girl on plant-based mission to create a healthier you. It’s not too tough, pretty simple in fact, however, when I received the call I nearly ran off the road in my own spastic excitement; this was my chance to (hopefully) appeal to a large audience and PROVE to them that adopting a plant-based diet, really is deliciously doable!
In November I walked into the brand new Dierbergs Kitchen for my first class The location in Des Peres (Da-Pare), MO is their new flagship store and it is beautiful. The attention to detail is spectacular in every inch! (I fully appreciate that their small carts come well equipped with a wine glass holder so that you can drink and shop, but that’s another post…) The kitchen is multipurposed, it’s a teaching kitchen, it’s an event center and it’s a TV studio, therefore is has to be well equipped, spacious, well lit and beautiful. Check, Check and Check.
Thankfully I have spent some time in the kitch before rehearsal and then tape days. When I walked in on tape day the space was transformed into a TV set. Blood pressure rising. Barb (host) immediately greeted me with her infectious smile, crazy Chef Marianne Moore swept in soon thereafter and director, Michael who I also worked with on rehearsal day all made me feel immediately comfortable. We started going over our lines, and after a couple of walk throughs… ACTION! Over the six hours of continual taping, I was spent, but in a happy blissful way. The production crew and the Dierbergs staff and I all became very chummy and I can see how easily it is to quickly become close with your co-workers in this environment.
I will be forever thankful to Dierbergs for this incredible opportunity. Everybody Cooks airs on Monday, March 4 at 7:00pm on channel 4 (in St. Louis) and the magazine is on stands now.
And, yes, that is Tyler Florence who was on the last episode of Everybody Cooks…What a kick!